WATERSHED-BASED EFFLUENT TRADING: THE NONPOINT SOURCE CHALLENGE
In 1996 the Environmental Protection Agency released draft guidelines intended to encourage the development of watershed-based effluent trading systems. Effluent trading systems allow dischargers the opportunity to transfer legal and financial requirements for effluent control in order to lower control costs. To assure that equivalent control is being exchanged, accurate measurement (quantification) of effluent load is necessary. Many argue that measurement of nonpoint source load represents a significant challenge for designing and implementing effluent trading systems. A nonpoint source delivers effluent over a diffuse area. This paper argues that the physical properties of nonpoint source discharge may not offer as significant a barrier to trading as often is presumed. Many measurement challenges are not unique to nonpoint sources, and measurement issues are successfully addressed within a number of local and regional water quality programs. Trading system design can stimulate institutional and technical innovations in nonpoint source measurement. Copyright 1998 Western Economic Association International.
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